counseling, psychology, self-help

When You are Disappointed by Life

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Do you feel disappointed by life?

It is a question that as a therapist, I often find myself asking my clients, at some point in our sessions. The answer to this question gives me a peek into the inner workings of their emotional life, their expectations, and their overall life perspective.

Unfortunately, more often than I like to hear, people will share with me that YES, they are indeed disappointed by life.

As a clinician, I take the reveal of being disappointed with life as a possibility this person may be experiencing some form of depression (or has the potentiality to develop depression).

Disappointment is often the final step before depression. Thus how you answer the question of “Are you disappointed by life?” can be very telling of your mental state.

As a mental health professional, I have found that disappointment reveals a lot about the person who expresses said emotion because disappointment is largely a subjective emotion.  What I may be disappointed by may not even register on your radar. Disappointment reveals one’s values, expectations, and goals based on what they are disappointed by. Therefore, when a client tells me they are disappointed by life I follow-up with what specifically disappoints you about life. The answer is telling.

High expectations lead to frequent disappointment.

You cannot be disappointed by a situation you have no vested interest in. You cannot be disappointed by someone you expect nothing of (which should be most people because I feel we should not hold expectations of the vast majority of people we encounter unless we want to be constantly disappointed). We can only be disappointed by something we hold an expectation of. Disappointment manifests itself through the failure of expectations being met.

The thing about disappointment is it says a lot more about the person who experiences it than the target of the disappointment.  If you are frequently experiencing disappointment, then likely you need to reevaluate the expectations you hold of yourself, others, and life in general.

Now do not take this as me saying you should not have standards. You should. We should all have standards of being treated with civility and human decency. However, often I find clients will share with me their expectations of others are out of touch with what we can realistically expect of other people.

Disappointment is in many ways a narcissistic emotion. We experience it when life isn’t going according to “our” plan. If someone tells you they are disappointed in you, they are basically say you are not living up to THEIR expectations.

When you are experiencing disappointment, you likely are viewing life as unfair. Your glass is “half empty.” This is not a healthy place to be living life from.

When you think about what might have been, in contrast to what actually IS, you may experience disappointment. The further our ideal life is from our actual life, the more disappointed we will feel.

You likely have been disappointed many times before—by yourself, other people, and situations. It is extremely human to experience this emotion.

However, in trying to provide ourself with the ability to best cope with life’s inevitable “disappointments” we need to shift what we expect out of ourself, others, and life in general.

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Life is never the problem. Our expectations are. Often if an outcome is worse than expected, we experience extreme disappointment.

This is all simple stuff to understand but we are often not cognizant that our own expectations are what cause us to feel disappointed. We often shift the blame to “out there.” We blame the other person, the situation, anything but ourself.

When things go right, you feel happy.

When things go wrong, we feel sad, angry, frustrated, and YES disappointed.

I find in counseling session, many of the people I work with do WHATEVER they can to avoid experiencing disappointment. They play it too safe. They live cautiously. They avoid “putting themself out there” out of fear—fear of rejection, fear of looking foolish, or fear of being disappointed by how things turn out. This is no way to live.

The problem with disappointment is it feels so hard to manage and overcome.

In disappointment comes a certain finality–the fact that you don’t have, didn’t get, or will never achieve whatever it is that you wanted. This is a bitter pill to swallow. Thus people avoid experiencing the emotion at all cost.

In disappointment, a goal we are trying to achieve is not achievable. It can be not getting our “crush” to agree to a date, not getting into our first choice college, not getting a job we wanted, not getting a house we put an offer on. Throughout life many opportunities present to experience disappointment.

In dealing with the people we love, disappointment can be soul crushing.  When we expect our loved one to give us what we want or treat us with respect and they do not–it is quite painful. Constant disappointment by a loved one leads to blame, resentment, and eventual detachment as we no longer are able to see them as a person we can trust with our feelings and emotions. Being repeatedly disappointed in the actions and behaviors of another lead to friendships ending, marriages dissolving, and family estrangement. 

It is often in feeling disappointment that we turn to anger. It is easier to feel anger towards whatever it is that is causing of us to feel disappointment then to face the sadness about the course of events. It is also easier to not look at ourselves and the role we played in our disappointment. We stay angry to avoid the sadness experienced in disappointment.

With anger you can continue to fight against what is and denigrate the person, situation, or event that is causing you to feel this way. However, disappointment requires an acceptance of what is and the reality of the situation.

Many people do whatever they can to avoid reality. This includes avoiding the experience of disappointment.

Much of what we experience is life is relatively neutral but our view on the experience colors whether it is good or bad.

How can we cope with our disappointment?

  1. Accept disappointment is a fact of life—it is an emotion we all will experience. Some disappointments are bigger than others but in resisting the reality of the situation, all we do is perpetuate the negative emotions that come with disappointment. Acceptance and normalizing the experience of disappointment is the first step in moving on.
  2. Reframe your perspective. Often our expectations of ourself, others, and situations are out of line with reality. Are you looking at the big picture? Take time to reflect on what mindset you are bringing to the table.
  3. Speak with a professional. If you are constantly feeling let down by life, now may be the time to speak with a professional counselor. Talking to a therapist who truly listens and has your best interest at heart can be incredibly helpful. Therapy can help you readjust your expectations to live a happier, more positive life.
  4. Shift your expectations. Are your expectations realistic? Can we expect people to do what is in the best interest of us over themselves? We forget that sometimes what is best for us is not necessarily best for another even someone we love. We all have our own lives to lead. Often our expectations of life can be unrealistic which sets us up for disappointment. Ask if what you’re expecting is reasonable.
  5. Don’t take it personally. Much of what people do is a reflection of their own reality, their own dreams. We need to work on becoming immune to the negative actions of others as to not destroy our own well-being. People largely do things because of themselves not you. It is not all about you–for most people it is all about THEM.

Life tests us all. We will all be disappointed. However, in self-reflecting you may find you are setting yourself up for much pain and disappointment by your own making. It is time for you to live a more positive, joyful existence.  Don’t let yesterday’s disappointments cast a dark shadow on today.

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To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader who lives in New Jersey):

https://anewcounselingservices.com/erin-theodorou%2Cm-ed-%2C-lpc

Anew Counseling Services LLC

617 Oradell Avenue, Suite 3, Oradell, New Jersey, 07649

(551) 795-3822
etheodorou@anewcounselingservices.com

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counseling, psychology, self-help

Why You Need Boundaries to Live a Happy Life

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Have you been feeling exhausted lately?
Stressed out?
Completely drained?

Ever feel under appreciated, unseen, and unsupported?

If you do, it may be that you need to learn how to set some boundaries in your life and relationships.

Our relationships need boundaries.

Healthy self-esteem=good boundaries=happy life 

The more you love and respect yourself, the more you can love and respect others.

In this day and age, we are living in an increasingly boundary LESS society.

Boundaries, or personal boundaries, can be understood as an invisible shield or fence around you. It’s a line you set for yourself and others that separates you from others and their influence.  Boundaries fulfill an important role in relationships. They are the emotional, physical, and mental limits we set with others that determine what we will, and will not, accept.

We are all separate people but we are also interconnected. Boundaries are the space between.

A lot of issues that arise in counseling, relate to boundary issues in a client’s life.

People who lack healthy boundaries are often unhappy. They are more likely to be emotional needy, get taken advantage of, and get treated with disrespect. Boundaries mean not letting people into your life to behave badly.

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Good fences make good neighbors.

Boundaries go both ways-you need to extend the same respect to the boundaries of others.

Boundaries give us a framework on how to act. They give us a warning when they are being violated. If someone steps over our boundary, we know it, we feel it, we have a visceral reaction.

Our emotions and thoughts are a compass guiding us–who we want to spend more time with and who we want to stay away from.

We all have the right and responsibility to set limits and create boundaries that work for us. It is up to you to enforce your boundaries.

You need to value yourself because when we value something we protect it.

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What are some signs you have poor boundaries?

~Your relationships tend to be difficult

~You always feel a little bit annoyed

~You think others don’t show you respect

~Your relationships tend to be dramatic

~You hate to let people down

~You feel other people let you down

~You may be passive aggressive

~You have trouble making your own decisions

~You fear being abandoned or rejected

~You are tired all the time

~You have trouble saying no

~You are easily guilted into things

~You coerce others into doing things

~You struggle with anxiety

~You often feel like a victim (especially to situations that you feel are out of your control)

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Boundaries are a form of self-care. They don’t steal your happiness, they protect it.

Healthy people have boundaries.
Boundaries are different for everyone—we are all comfortable with different levels of closeness in our relationships.

Boundaries are largely subjective. What I may be comfortable with you, you may be uncomfortable. Neither of us is right or wrong-just different.

If you set a boundary with someone and they do NOT respect it, they are showing you they care more about their own ego gratification than they do about you and the relationship. If this is the case, while it will be painful to find out, it will lead to greener pastures.

There are two possible outcomes when you set boundaries with people:
~a BETTER, healthier relationship (for both sides)

OR

~you find out the person doesn’t care about the relationship enough to respect the boundaries set forth and the relationship disintegrates (if this is the case you usually feel liberated in the end because you are taking care of yourself)

Ultimately, either outcome, is win-win for you.  Boundaries strengthen understanding and connection between both parties. Healthy boundaries are the cornerstone of happy relationships.

Boundaries are fluid and change as we change.

As someone who is naturally a pretty open book, I have learned over the years to be more private. Perhaps this is a natural progression of maturing. On the flip side, you may be someone who is more reserved, who is working on becoming more open with others.

Boundaries are a two-way street.

Just as we want to ensure people respect our boundaries, it is equally important for us to respect OTHER people’s boundaries.

If you struggle with respecting the boundaries set forth by others, causing conflict in your relationships, it would be helpful to take some time to reflect on why.

Unless there’s an emergency, the one screaming is usually the problem.

There are extenuating circumstances when there’s an emergency or crisis. Or if you are dealing with an extremely toxic person. But if you find yourself flipping out on people, blaming or resenting others for your feelings, the first place to look is in the mirror. You and your boundaries are probably the problem.

If I feel strong in my boundaries and you feel strong in yours, we can meet and connect in a healthy way.

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It’s important for our mental well-being to have personal boundaries. They lay the groundwork for how we approach relationships. Our boundaries help us live according to our values.

Clearly established boundaries help us to take care of ourselves emotionally, physically and spiritually. Our boundaries help us to become less concerned about how we are viewed by others and more satisfied with the perceptions we hold of ourselves.

 

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